Recognizable words from the country’s Pledge of Allegiance. As I read a news blurb that mentioned the illegality of providing food to the homeless in some cities, those words rose in my mind. I thought such laws could not exist. So, I Googled it, and what do you think I found? I found that in my own backyard, our erstwhile Mayor Bloomberg made it illegal for food to be delivered to homeless shelters because the city wasn’t able to monitor the salt, fat, and fiber content of the foods being eaten by the homeless.
Say what? I’m pretty sure a homeless person would be willing to endure a salty bagel as opposed to death.
So, I began to think further about the words to the Pledge of Allegiance, a daily school recitation that has probably been desensitized in the minds of most from such constant repetition, but consider the components:
Pledge – as a noun – “a solemn promise or agreement to do or refrain from doing something.”
Pledge – as a verb – “to promise solemnly” or “to stake, as one’s honor.”
Allegiance – a noun – “loyalty or devotion to some person, group, cause, or the like.”
Every day school children promise their loyalty to both the flag, which represents our nation as a whole, and to the republic, which includes all the people who are its citizens. But do we?
A quick survey of our country would seem to suggest otherwise. Illegality of feeding the homeless in some cities would seem anathema to our Pledge. So would the prohibitions for same-sex marriage, prejudicial attitudes toward the poor, Jews, Muslims, African-Americans, or any other group you might think of that experiences difficulty on a day-to-day basis.
That pledge we have made countless times seems for naught, and the number of digressions seems to be growing at an alarming rate.
Consider the recent debacle in Indiana with Governor Pence signing the religious freedom bill. Does that not fly in the face of what we have pledged to uphold? Or the Oklahoma fraternity who thought it was funny to chant a song about “niggers”, and the most recent display of Commack, NY teens playing beer pong with swastikas and Auschwitz displayed prominently on their red tee shirts. I’m disgusted by Christian intolerance (what an oxymoron), by white supremacists (read the transcript of Kenneth Morgan Stancil III’s diatribe to a North Carolina judge – charming looking boy, isn’t he – notice the Heil Hitler 88 on his left cheek), by politicians who yield to special interests that favor the rich instead of the promotion of the common people of America.
I think it’s time we look for alternatives to infuse the intent of the Pledge into the DNA of our citizenry, rather than reciting words blindly. (Say any word, any word at all, over and over again, and your ear will quickly convince your mind that it’s meaningless sound).
More importantly, we need to remind ourselves – every day – that our approach to life should promote the tenets of the Pledge; that in this country we have the right to expect Liberty and Justice for ALL.